Are the North Carolina Cherokee Indians Separdic Jews?

Jeannette Holland Austin
3 min readOct 9, 2017

Many people have expressed the fact that the Cherokees resembled the Jewish population. Indeed, my own visits into Cherokee, North Carolina seem to confirm this. Unfortunately, the sampling of the DNA appears to be incomplete. Cherokees have high levels of test markers associated with the Berbers, native Egyptians, Turks, Lebanese, Hebrews and Mesopotamians. Genetically, they are more Jewish than the typical American Jew of European ancestry. The so-called “full-blooded” Cherokees have high levels of European DNA and a trace of Native American DNA. Their skin color and facial features are primarily Semitic in origin, not Native American. Both DNA Consultants and journalists are stating that the research results from the Qualla Reservation apply to all Cherokees. Yet separate populations of Cherokees outside the eservation had Maya DNA like the Georgia Creeks. In one county, the Cherokees were predominantly Quechua from South America, or else mixed Quechua, Maya and Creek. However, during the 1600s the Iberian Sephardic Jews and Moorish Conversos colonized the North Carolina and Georgia Mountains, where they mined and worked gold and silver. All European maps show western North Carolina occupied by Apalache, Creek, Shawnee and Yuchi Indians until 1718. Most of these indigenous tribal groups were forced out in the early 1700s. Anglo-American settlers moving into northeastern Tennessee and extreme southwestern Virginia mentioned seeing Jewish speaking villages in that region until around 1800. Adair, in his book, stated that the Cherokees spoke an unknown language, perhaps similar to the Hebrew language. What has not been studied (to my knowledge) by DNA experts, is the DNA of the Separdic Jews. The Sephardic Jews were Hebrews whose community emerged on the Iberian Peninsula ca 1000 A. D. and went on to establish communities in Spain and Portugal where they were known for distinctive characteristics and an diasporic identity. Upon the Catholic Monarchs in Spain issuing the Alhambra Decree of 1492 and subsequent mass conversions to Catholism and executions, the Separdic Jews left the Iberian peninsula and joined other Jewish exiles in Europe and the Americas.

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